Now the U.S. Has to Live Up to Its Promises

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Iraq Views: 2764
2764

The fall of Baghdad on Wednesday unleashed conflicting emotions in Iraq, the Arab world and the United States. It also opened a wide range of options for what happens next and generated uncertainties about how Iraqis and other Arabs will see and treat the U.S.

The initial television images of Iraqis dancing in the streets, toppling statues of Saddam Hussein and welcoming American troops accurately reflect sentiments today, but long-term Arab political attitudes toward the U.S. will be determined largely by American acts and policies in the days to come.

Although the American invasion wasn't supported by most Arabs and its motives were not generally trusted, those feelings can be tempered if the U.S. now makes the right moves. Whether Iraq's future is stable and peaceful, and how Americans are viewed in the years ahead, will depend almost entirely on two closely related issues: Will Washington build a truly democratic system before it leaves Iraq and will the U.S. deal fairly with other regional issues of concern to Arabs, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Citizenship and human rights in the Arab world are probably the single most persistent, undefined and unresolved issue that has plagued Arabs for the last half-century. A democratic, well-governed Iraq, helped into being by the U.S., could provide the breakthrough that Arabs fervently seek in establishing governance systems that respond to their basic demands for human dignity and social equity. But if the U.S. military administration of Iraq is a long, drawn-out affair and spawns an Iraqi power structure that favors some Iraqis to the disadvantage of others, anti-American political sentiment and even armed resistance are likely to surface quickly, inside Iraq and elsewhere.

Arabs broadly mistrust Washington's aims and plans for Iraq in large part because they have long suffered its striking double standards throughout the Middle East. The Arab world will keep one eye on Washington's policies inside Iraq and the other on its actions on Arab-Israeli peacemaking and promoting democracy and human rights in other parts of the region.

The most consistent and fervent recent criticism of the U.S. by Arabs has been aimed at its double standard in waging war twice in Iraq to implement U.N. resolutions there while simultaneously acquiescing to Israel's defiance of scores of U.N. resolutions and to its 36-year-old occupation of Palestinian lands. The Arabs don't expect the U.S. to muster another armada to militarily force Israel to end its occupation, but they do expect Washington to use its political, economic and diplomatic muscle to implement the "road map" to Palestinian-Israeli peace, which aims for adjacent Palestinian and Israeli states enjoying equal security and national rights. More American lassitude in the face of Israel's colonization of occupied Palestinian lands would only strengthen Arab critics who accuse the U.S. of a duplicitous double standard that mainly serves pro-Israeli interests.

Similarly, Arabs will watch carefully to see whether the White House's recent enthusiasm for democracy in Iraq is unique to that oil-rich Arab land or whether Washington finally implements a consistent policy that seeks to promote democracy, pluralism and accountability in all Arab countries. Most Arabs doubt the U.S. commitment to real democracy because the U.S. has funded, armed and backed quite a few autocratic, corrupt and unaccountable Arab regimes. If this norm persists, so will the widespread Arab disdain of American policies.

Anti-American sentiments have swept the Arab world in recent decades primarily as a reaction to perceived unfair U.S. policies on the Arab-Israeli conflict and U.S. support for a stubborn, autocratic Arab political order. Iraq could be just another stage in this trend, or it could mark the start of a new American policy that works for equal rights among Arabs and Israelis and pluralistic democracy for all Arab states.

Rami G. Khouri is executive editor of the Daily Star in Beirut.


  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Iraq
Views: 2764

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Older Comments:
AKBAR KHAN FROM CANADA said:
Wow Mike Hale, nice show of ignorance! It's nice to know you addressed 1.5 billion Muslims in the world by telling them to stop praying to God for the US to fall. To clarify you, update you on what Iraqi's think, for the first time since The Baathist's moved out, 30 and some odd years later, they are allowed to ask for an Islamic Government...you think just because CNN shows you that they thank the USA, that they wouldn't do the same thing if Saddam was still there, man do you not see it's an exchange of one regime for another, what do you expect people who have for 3 decades, since many were born, to think...Most have never known of an Islamic government...you think you can convert them to swallow this so called democracy, this ideology that never lives up to its concept? Muslims don't want the US to fall, Muslims want people that can listen, not be arrogant lunatics like George Dubya, who knew NOTHING about the world outside of Texas until after he was briefed about the world in his Texas ranch a few days before running for president...this is the leader of teh USA, and you expect Muslims to be foolish in fallnig for more false US promises, where's the Palestinian state after 50 years of false promises...hahaha Mikey it's time you opened up a history book that isn't written by an American. How do you suppose the Coalition forces are going to create order in Iraq? Well from what CNN shows, it seems like they are going to wait until anarchy reaches such a disgusting level in Iraq that is par-to-par with your comment, that the people will beg for order. That order, that law, will be the US saying, HERE'S DEMOCRACY, it will fix all your problems!! Yes we see how the US Government had a brilliant post-Invasion plan. It goes like this...Invade, then occupy, open the country to mass looting, and start throwing threats at Syria,Iran because Sharon got on his knees begging that Bush do something about them while govt's like Egypt continue to be bought off by US-AID.
2003-04-16

STEWART BRINTON FROM CANADA said:
Terrorists-- anywhere and of any stripe, whether entire nations or small fanatical cells-- are jackals lapping the blood of injustice. Until the injustice is dealt with no amount of patriotic blustering will quell the shedding of innocent blood.
Gore Vida refers to America as the "United STates of Amnesia." No one has really tackled the meaning of the WTC attack. The Twin Towers being the symbol of American financial hegemoney. A cruel oppression where half of the world's money supply passed through the electronic circuitry of Manhatten where some fifty thousand fiduciary workers every day manipulated bonds, stocks and currencies, each taking a hefty cut and celebrating their unprecedented lifestyles carved from the corpses of impoverished Third World nations.
Remember: for every dollar America magnanimously lends a distressed country, sixteen dollars comes back as interest. This is an usury condemned by all major religions. It is time to boycott America. It is time to default on the loans of the IMF and the World Bank. Reducing the American empire to the dust of its own speculation would happen as quickly as the monolithic towers were reduced to dust by a handful of men executing the greatest military operation in history, some fifty to a hundred men plotting to goad the American eagle by drawing innocent blood, spending a million dollars and creating a over a trillion dollars in expenditures in America and altering the American Republic, shaving off its superficial ideals and revealing the bully beneath. ---Stewart Brinton
2003-04-16

NASSER ABDEEN FROM US said:
the U.S.will never live up to its promises as long as there are people in the government who pretend to be loyal americans and they work on behalf of Israel and the Israeli lobby.How can you ask for fairness from people like wolfwitz or perle whom there love and devotion to Israel more than to the U.S
2003-04-14

MIKE HALE FROM USA said:
Just maybe Allah is telling you that you should quit praying for the downfall of America and the UK and start thanking Allah for sending them to you. Obviously from the video feeds of Iraq the people don't seem like they HATE Americans with the passion that I read on these pages.
Or maybe the news reports are all false, the Jews have once again taken over the News Media and are programming fake video's of American and British troops being welcomed into Baghdad!
I'm waiting right now for an email from my Zionest Master to tell me what to think next.
2003-04-14

NADEEM SIKANDAR FROM USA said:
What is happening to the Muslim Ummah today is unprecedented. It is true this is not the only time Muslims are going through rough and difficult times. It is the first time, however, the entire Ummah is suffering wherever they may be, including Muslims in the so-called free and democratic country- the good ol' US of A. This is due to the fall of the Khilafah, turning the Muslims into sheep without a shepherd. What is happening in Iraq is only an extension of the execution of the grand plan of the few elite who wish to gain supreme power in the land and control the resources of the world. It just so happens that most of the resources of the world are under the feet of the Muslims. Of course this is only one side to the many sides of the Grand War mankind is witnessing today.
Yesterday it was Afghanistan and today it is Iraq. Perhaps tomorrow is Syria's turn and then Iran and so on. God knows best.
The invasion of the foreign forces and the atrocities being inflicted on the people of Iraq has transgressed all the norms and rules of conventional wars. They have gone beyond the will of the United Nations; it is going beyond all political, social and moral values. The Iraqi people in particular, and the Muslims in general are suffering greatly during these difficult times. The question is, What Should We Do? Can We as Muslims Do Anything?

The answer is yes- we can do many things. There are both short term and long-term tasks that we can perform.

Before we discuss what we should do, we as believers must acknowledge the fact that no calamity befalls upon us but by the leave of Allah (SWT).
2003-04-13

AHMED ASGHER FROM BAHRAIN said:
Don't hold your breath in hoping that the Americans will come to liberate us. Are they not supporting the unjust rulers as they 'liberate' Iraq? Are they not bankrolling Sharon as they talk of 'Road Map'? or Planning to intmidate their next target as Israel points to the next target on it wishlist.

No wonder we have US troops in almost every Arab and Muslim nation. We must be blind if we still trust them to come and save us. I believe it the day they come up with a just solution to the Palestinian suffering. The day they pack up their troops and leave our lands. the day they stop supporting this tribe against that to suite their own aims, instead of what is right. The day they truly support the people of the ME as opposed to some despot and those who open the doors to their war machinery against the will of their own people.

In truth if the US wants the people of the ME to enjoy democracy, then the first thing that will happen is thatn they will be voted out. Rest assured that they will never want democracy and if anyone believes so, then they truly have their heads burried deep in the sand.

We have no need for any outsider to tell us how to live our lives. All we need is to be left alone to sort our problems out for ourselves. With no outside power siding with chosen despots we can sort our problems with ease and comfort as majority of us truly believe in the power of Allah and will eventually find our own democracy. After all we have had longer history and richer culture to draw upon and fashion our lives. Western democracy is good for Westerners. They have arrived at their democracy after over 300 years of wars and strife. We, likewise, must find our own form of government taking into account our religious beliefs, history, culture and current aspirations.

May Allah guide us all to His path. Ahmed Asgher
2003-04-13

TRISH GLYNNE FROM UNITED STATES said:
I believe you are correct. I believe Bush said that the next item on the agenda was the Palestine/Israel solution. If we have to step on a few Jewish toes, so be it ... I think we'll do it this time. Of course, we'll probably step on a few Palistinian toes too. When is their PM going to be installed? As an American with lineage back to our Revolutionary War I know from family journals of the hardships suffered during that 8 year war. I certainly have voiced my opinion to my President that my family and I want the Iraqis to control their own government and be free to not only voice their opinions but be safe in doing so, for the only way to change your government is the take the responsibilty of freedom and participate.
2003-04-12

ARSHIYA FROM INDIA said:
america has to just leave us muslims in peace ,it has come to iraq to grab its oil, if it thinks people r blind then let americans know that all those who r supporting this war will c when allah will destroy them as all the muslims r cursing mr bush and his allied forces there is a saying that people who do suber [wait patiently for the warth of allah to fall on them]and allah will soon hear the cry of all my muslin brethen and distroy america and UK wait and watch as all the muslims r waiting for the miracle to happen and v shall pray the thanks giving pray when usa and uk r distroyed inshallah
2003-04-12

YUSUF FROM AUSTRALIA said:
When America raised its flag on Iraqi soil (having taken down the Iraqi flag first), and then began handing out oil and other contracts to US corporations, surely the EVIDENCE that this is an OCCUPATION and NOT liberation was clear. Furthermore, please refer to the following website for the truth about the pulling down of Saddam's statue in Baghdad- http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2842.htm
2003-04-12

ONCE ADMIRER OF US FROM UAE FROM UAE said:
So the liberating US troops can secure the oil fields but they cannot provide security to the people of Iraq. Who said this war was about OIL? The US will live up to its promise only if it is in its interest. Please don't give us this hogwash about freedom and liberation.
2003-04-12

M ANWARI FROM SINGAPORE said:
Toby is right in saying that the Palestinians and Israelians should settle their conflict.They should but as long as USA take sides in leaning towards Israel when the Palestinians has agreed to live side by side then the lop sided feeling of the Palestinians will exist. The lop-sided weapon advantage of the Israel having "weapon of mass destruction" will also cause these lop-sided feeling in the middle east. USA should also review the weapons sales as no matter who have it the decision is left to the government elected by the public of that country and if they elect a "skewed" minded person then he will react in the same way. The same if otherwise which is safer.
People who have stayed or at least been there will understand the middle east better than those who have not and will decide favourably and since most people will decide based on what they know of a problem no matter where they are so applying USA culture to Middle East culture is like forcing someone who like fish to eat beef. In SE Asia there is a proverb: Do not measure others'shirt based on your own shirt measurement.
2003-04-11

PARVEZ FROM ENGLAND said:
Even though Iraq has no links to 911, the Bush administartion os using it as an excuse to gain more independence from its current allies in theregion especially Saudia. As mentioned in earlier article majority of the sucide highjackers came from Saudi.

Even though the Saudi Royal family are allies to the US a majority of the population hates the US. IT is this realisation that has shifhted US to find another strong ally in the Middle East with Large Oil reserves. The US fears of a Iran type revolution in Saudi so therefore, if it is seen as a liberator of Iraq and is able to put those in power that are symperthetic towards the US, it is covered. This war has not been about WMD, Saddam, Or OBladen it has been about the US protecting OIL for itself for the next 50 years, and to have an influence on other growing Economies.

2003-04-11

ADAM IBRAHIM MUHAMMAD FROM NIGERIA said:
In one of our localities here if they want to refer to a foolish person they call him an Arab. This use to pain me so much but reading this article I'm incline to change my mind.

Syria bang on the premise that "America will never attack Iraq" and voted for resolution 1441. What happened? The answer is yours, thoughtful guy.

The Arabs better not sit again and think that anything positive is going to come out after the destruction of Iraq, from the U.S. U.S is Israel damn you! Can't anybody see this????? The time for Arabs to overhaul their Governments and by extension save themselves from being colonised by Israel is ripe. He who has ears let him hear.



2003-04-11

MITCH FROM UK said:
If you want to believe the dancing reflects the current situation in Baghdad, wait, until you go to www.iraqwar.ru!
2003-04-11

KOVIT FROM CANADA said:
Dancing and celebrating in Baghdad...
If U.S./U.K. do not live up to their promised and justice, wait until the honeymoon is over, they will get their feet wet.
2003-04-11